New Zealand is a sailing destination with almost 16,000 km of coastline, stunning bays, mountain fjords, lakes and hundreds of islands to explore. From the drowned river valleys of Marlborough Sounds to the two busy harbours that Auckland was built around, from isolated anchorages in the wilderness to having a major city just past your boat mooring, you’ll find a new place to sail everywhere you look in New Zealand sailing destination.
The hardest part may be deciding where to go first, so here are a few places to get you started.
Located in the southwest corner of the South Island, Fiordland is completely different than the rest of New Zealand. Named as a World Heritage Site, the Tasman Sea runs into primaeval forests and lakes that were carved out by huge glaciers.
One of the highlights is Milford Sound, a place described by Rudyard Kipling as the “eighth wonder of the world.” In this surreal place, mountains rise out of the water and you can sail under tumbling waterfalls and huge rocky overhangs. Just over the mountain pass lies Lake Te Anau, the country’s second largest lake, and the deep fiords are often a haven for fur seals, bottlenose dolphins and crested penguins.
Considered one of the world’s best-kept secrets, the word is out on this collection of drowned river valleys at the top of the South Island. Within the labyrinth of islands, bays and coves between the native forests you’ll find some of New Zealand’s endangered wildlife, and the wreckage of the Russian cruise ship Mikhail Lermontov has become an artificial reef for scuba divers.
New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington is one of the windiest places in the world, making for some thrilling sailing. A ‘river of wind’ blows from the Cook Strait between the North and South islands, creating a wind corridor that sweeps into the harbour. Famously known as ‘the Windy City’ city is home to 13 yacht clubs and has long been favourite a stopover in the Volvo Ocean Race helping to bolster its appeal in the global sailing community.
Hauraki Gulf, Auckland
Hauraki Gulf is a marine reserve located right next to the city of Auckland on the North Island and really does offers the best of two worlds. The city was built around two large harbours and has seaside promenades lined with bars and cafes. If you prefer to be outdoors the rugged west coast is perfect for kite-boarding and surfing.
Inside of Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park, there are 47 islands located less than an hour away. Whales, dolphins, orca and blue penguins can be seen in the waters on the way to Great Barrier island’s peaceful and sandy beaches.
Auckland is a vital port-of-call for the Volvo Ocean Race, which will be stopping next in 2018 during its global circumnavigation.
Bay of Islands
Located on the Northern end of the North Island this picturesque area includes over 140 sub-tropical islands and is rated one of the world’s best places to set sail. It’s usually the first port of call for hundreds of sailors coming down from the tropics during cyclone season and with good reason.
Known for its undeveloped white-sand beaches, big game fishing and Maori cultural artefacts, there’s plenty to see and do here. Each year yachters complete the country’s most popular inshore race, the 120-mile Coastal Classic from Auckland to Russell, New Zealand’s first colonial capital city.
Where to sail is up to you, and New Zealand boasts a wide variety of stunning choices. Even if you spent your entire life sailing these coasts, you would always have a new sailing destination to explore, admire and enjoy.
From stunning, remote regions of New Zealand’s South Island, to iconic world-renowned locations and sailing destination that sailors have been frequenting for years, New Zealand has it all. Cast off your lines, adjust your sails and set course for the watery wonders the Land of the Long White Cloud has to offer.